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Yazici, Berna

Grant Type
Dissertation Fieldwork Grant
Insitutional Affiliation
New York U.
Completed Grant
Approve Date
Project Title
Yazici, Berna, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Social Work in Turkey: Nation Making and the Modern Family,' supervised by Dr. Lila Abu-Lughod

BERNA YAZICI, while a student at New York University, New York, New York, received funding in January 2004 to aid research on state sponsored social work among the urban poor in Turkey, under the supervision of Dr. Lila Abu-Lughod. Yazici was interested in the models of family and gendered subjectivities promoted through social work intervention in order to illuminate how the social life of national subjects is constituted and contested. Her research explored how social work intervenes in familial relations and practices both through more indirect mechanisms such as educational programs as well as through the more direct medium of casework. For the former, she conducted twelve months of fieldwork at the state social work agency's two society centers. Attending the educational programs offered at the centers, observing the daily routines at the administrative offices, and interviewing clients, she focused on the role of social workers as mediators of social work programs and the clients' appropriations of social services. In addition, Yazici conducted supplementary fieldwork at a city directorate office of the agency, where she observed cases of child protection, domestic violence, and social assistance. Her research suggested two conclusions, both of which point to the effects of social work intervention in terms of relations of power, gender, and class: 1) There exists a tension between social work's official model of the nuclear family, which foregrounds the mother-child dyad, and the dominance of extended kin relations that prevail in the lives of the urban poor, which the social work agency strategically and paradoxically ignores and utilizes; and 2) social work's mission of 'protecting the unity of the family,' particularly interpreted as facilitating the child's upbringing within her family, structures the various services provided by the agency and may lead to (non)interventions that particularly disadvantage women and children.